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America: We’re (Tied For) Number Two…

Special to The Green Register by Kyle Crider, Manager – Environmental Operations, Ecotech Institute

“China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.” ~Charles de Gaulle

Want to hear something amazing? China has more honor students than the U.S. has total students. Let that sink in a moment…

China just passed us in clean & renewable wind energy capacity, and they are on track to double that capacity by 2015. It’s much the same story with China and solar power. China is putting all those honor students—backed by heavy government subsidies—to good use.

According to the recent Global Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices Report by Ernst & Young, China is number one in terms of renewable energy investment attractiveness. As Ernst & Young relates, “The US, however, has lost points in the index this quarter and now has to share second place with Germany. The contrast between these two markets couldn’t be starker. While the upcoming November elections have led to policy gridlock in the US, Germany is pushing ahead with its ambitious renewables agenda, including the introduction of a new mid-size rooftop PV tariff (despite cuts elsewhere) and compensating for losses caused by offshore grid connection delays.”

Although the U.S. still leads in terms of economic might, China is closing on us and by most expert accounts will surpass us to be the leading economic power in the world within 40 years. China already owns approximately one-quarter of our own national debt.

Are you scared yet? There’s no reason to be. Empires wax and wane, but sustainable living is timeless and global. There is probably very little that we can do to avoid slipping into second or third place behind emerging economic powerhouses like China, which is combining free market reforms with a strong central government in innovative ways, and India, which at more than four times the U.S. population is the world’s largest democracy.

But we don’t have to cede our clean energy leadership just yet. America can stop abdicating its technological lead in renewable energy by training more workers and by subsidizing clean energy rather than dirty oil, coal, and natural gas. We can’t drill our way to energy independence and global leadership, but we can regain the top position with renewable energy technology. If we don’t produce it, we’d better get ready to buy it from China.

“Let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world.” -Napoleon

“The awakening of the people of China to the possibilities under free government is the most significant, if not the most momentous, event of our generation.” ~Woodrow Wilson


Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at